20Mar

Why you should consider living somewhere other than Seoul

If you look up “must-visit” places in South Korea, there are a few cities, temples and beachside destinations that often come up. The bustling city of Seoul, the ancient Hanok village in Jeonju, and the beautiful beaches of both Busan and Jeju Island are some of the most popular destinations. While these locations are definitely worth visiting, anyone who is considering teaching in South Korea might want to look elsewhere when deciding on where they want to live.

Despite being the fourth biggest city in South Korea, Daegu is often left off of these must-visit lists. While it may not have the amount of shopping you can find in Seoul, the nostalgic, historic feeling of Gyeongju, or the stunning black rock beaches of Jeju, living in Daegu has a plethora of perks on its own. I lived in Daegu for two years in the gorgeous Suseong-Gu area, and I miss it all the time.

Daegu is known for being set in a low valley with lush green mountains all around it. It was wonderful to have such greenery close by all year long, and to be surrounded by that view no matter where I went. The summers were hotter than anything I’ve ever experienced (the locals often call it Daefrica due to the humidity in the summer months) because of its location, but the view made it worth it. The gorgeous Geumho river flows through the city, and was one of my favourite places to rent a Kakao Bike to ride alongside. There are small parks, trees, and flowers everywhere, which makes the city a perfect combination of metropolitan mixed with nature. It’s busy but not overwhelming, with a bustling nightlife downtown and a thriving music scene. 

(The Geumho River)

One of my favourite things about Daegu was the main train station. Dongdaegu Station is one of the most well-connected stations across the entire country. In just one hour, you can get to Busan on the KTX; in just over two hours, you can get to Seoul. There are buses that will take you to many nearby towns in just an hour or two, including Gyeongju, Geoje, and Tongyeong, as well as direct buses to popular sites such as Haeinsa Temple. If you’re okay with longer bus rides, you can also get buses to further destinations such as Andong, Yeosu, Gwangju and some bigger cities in Gapyeong and Gangwon-do. There are sometimes transfers in Seoul for these longer rides, but they are always quick and easy (and cheap). The Daegu Airport also flies to Seoul and Jeju directly!

(Okyeongji Lake)

While it is definitely a transportation hub, the city of Daegu itself has lots of cool places to visit. Among these are the Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Culture Center, the cable car on Apsan Mountain, Suseong Lake, the Daegu Arboretum, Okyeongji Lake and of course, E-World. My personal favourite place in Daegu was Palgongsan, and the breathtaking Donghwasa Temple that’s nestled within its mountains. I took the hour–long bus trip into the mountains on multiple occasions, both alone and with friends, and loved it just as much each time. The downtown core, which revolves around Dongseong-ro, is full of both Korean, European, and North American brand clothing stores, as well as thrift stores, restaurants, bars and shops.
(Palgongsan Mountain, entrance to Donghwasa Temple)

(Daegu Arboretum)

(View from Apsan)

Another thing that I loved about Daegu was the number of cute cafes. While South Korea is known for its quirky and beautiful cafes, most people only know of and visit the ones in Seoul. There are so many more cafes outside of the capital! I frequented many of the cafes in my neighborhood and across the city, even making friends with some of the local owners who would sneak me free treats and drinks. I’ve lived in both France and Italy and visited many other countries, and have never seen so many beautiful cafes in one place! I didn’t drink coffee before I moved to Korea, and now I definitely do.

(Daegu Cafe)

(Christmas at Suseong Lake)

In conclusion, while more popular cities might seem more exciting and enticing, there is something to be said for picking a place to settle down in that’s a bit lesser known. I consider myself to be a big-city girl with a small-town heart, and Daegu very quickly felt like home to me. It has everything you need, including a state-of-the-art metro and bus system, art galleries, museums, local shops and cafes, high-end stores, and amazing food. While English may be less commonly spoken in Daegu than Seoul or Busan, I didn’t find that it hindered me at all. In fact, learning basic Korean, using Papago Translate, and just simply trying to communicate landed me with some wonderful Korean friends and wholesome interactions. So if you’re thinking about moving to Korea and aren’t sure where to look, consider taking a chance outside of the main cities, because you just might fall in love with a place like I did.

Authors

  • Kolaris
  • Leslie Thompson

    Leslie is a writer and ESL teacher who grew up in Canada, and has since lived in and traveled to many different countries. Though currently taking a year to visit family back home, she lived in Daegu for two years and can't wait to move back to Korea. Leslie holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Guelph in History and French, and loves learning new languages. She can now speak three languages fluently, including English, French and Korean! When Leslie isn't working, she's reading books of all genres, performing in musical theatre, and looking for the cutest cafes to visit.